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When Labor Is Capital, Why Push Labor Away?

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"I moderated a fascinating—and somewhat depressing—panel on high-skill immigration at the National Chamber Foundation this week," Nick Schulz of the American Enterprise Institute writes. "Duke University’s Vivek Wadhwa, who has been studying the habits and attitudes of Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs for the last few years, argued that for the first time in its history the United States is experiencing a brain drain and doesn’t even realize it.

"It is well-known that, for generations, America attracted Europeans, Asians, South Asians, and others to come here, learn, and in many cases start and build businesses," Schulz continues. "Modern Silicon Valley wouldn’t have been possible without this dynamic. Less well-known today is that increasing numbers of Indians, Chinese, and other talented students studying in the United States don’t plan to grow roots here. They sense more opportunity outside the United States. And they don’t want to put up with the hassles of current U.S. immigration law."

Wadhwa conducted a survey among students, which elicited some startling responses.

"Most expect to be here fewer than 10 years—long enough to get some experience and pay off loans, only to leave to build businesses in India and China," Wadhwa found.

Schulz ponders:

"In an era when, as Arnold Kling puts it, labor is capital, government policies are pushing capital away from our shores. Here’s an area ripe for reform. If either political party is serious about economic growth, it will take the lead on high-skill immigration reform."

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